Sir Ken Robinson

Is school a straightjacket? A response to David Aaronovitch

2015-10-23T11:59:05+01:00October 23rd, 2015|Featured|

The more constraints one imposes, the more one frees one's self. And the arbitrariness of the constraint serves only to obtain precision of execution.  Igor Stravinsky In yesterday's Times, David Aaronovitch wrote an opinion piece headlined, Pupils aren't just another brick in the wall. His argument was that schools "force" children into cohorts depending on their age and abilities and that this is a "straightjacket". Many aspects of schooling are, he claims, based on the flawed assumption that children develop at the same time and in the same way. Clearly, they don't. We are, of course, unique, just like snowflakes, but [...]

This much I know about John Tomsett's book

2015-06-22T21:18:17+01:00June 22nd, 2015|reflection|

I remember reading John's first blog when it appeared in June 2012. Since then his posts have been consistently wise and deeply human. Even when he bangs on about golf, fishing or The Clash. Until I read that John was a headteacher who actually taught - actual classes - I'd never encountered this as a concept before. Since then I've seen him as a lodestone; my ideal against which I measure all other heads. I've had the privilege of meeting him a couple of times and he's as warm, tolerant and kind as you imagine him to be. We sat next to each [...]

Does ADHD exist?

2019-11-11T13:03:27+00:00January 14th, 2015|myths|

One of the few things I remember agreeing with when I heard Ken Robinson talking about changing educational paradigms was his observation that diagnoses of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) fall as you travel across America from West to East. Not the map Ken refers to, but something very similar. He calls this modern epidemic the "plague of ADHD" and claims it is "fictitious". He clarifies this by saying, Don't mistake me, I don't mean to say there is no such thing as Attention Deficit Disorder. I'm not qualified to say if there is such a thing. I know that a great majority of [...]

The dark art of creativity

2014-04-12T12:32:29+01:00April 11th, 2014|myths|

I was recently reminded of the 'schools are killing creativity' trope that was so prevalent a few years ago. Tempting as it may be to nod along with Ken Robinson and his cronies, it's worth contemplating the creative power of constraints. Without clear knowledge of forms and ‘rules’, creativity is inevitably stifled. Ideas become a kitchen-sink soup with everything chucked into the pot with little regard for structure or purpose. Children’s imaginations are already pretty vast and the younger the child, the greater the depth of their imagination. We don’t need to teach this, it just is. Sir Ken claims that children arrive [...]

Knowledge is power

2013-09-25T21:14:34+01:00October 21st, 2012|learning, myths, SOLO|

I've been having a bit of think this week. Firstly I read Daisy Christodoulou's post on Hirsch's Core Knowledge curriculum. She points out that Hirsch, oft-condemned for being the darling of ideologues like Mickey Gove is, in his own words 'a quasi socialist' and big mates with Diane Ravitch (who is nobody's fool.) Then I listened to the hugely entertaining Jonathan Lear give an excellent presentation at Independent Thinking's Big Day Out in Bristol on Friday and like any speaker worth their salt he got me thinking. His point, if I may make so bold as to attempt a precis, is that [...]

Teaching creatively vs teaching creativity

2013-11-02T20:36:49+00:00May 20th, 2012|learning|

What is creativity? Can it be taught? Can it be aped or emulated? Or is copying something that someone else is doing, by its very nature, a lack of creativity? Oft quoted creativity guru Sir Ken Robinson calls creativity 'the process of having original ideas that have value'. Creativity "comes about through the interaction of different disciplinary ways of seeing things". Maybe. Creativity is also defined as the ability to think divergently, or to put ideas together in new and surprising ways. I'm sure, given sufficient time and inclination you could come up with hundreds of divergent ideas on what creativity [...]

Creativity, analysis and comparison

2013-09-22T15:22:20+01:00February 11th, 2012|English, literacy, reading, writing|

English teachers have a tough gig. We need to constantly hone the hard-edged skill of analysis whilst simultaneously encouraging the fluffy stuff of creativity. There’s a lot said and written about creativity these days, much of it by Sir Ken Robinson. Basically, Ken's argument goes along these lines: schools should value the Arts more highly and find ways to foster creativity in those subjects where it doesn’t necessarily appear naturally. We should do this because creativity (the ability to have new ideas which have value) is increasingly important in a world where jobs that don’t require creativity have disappeared or outsourced to [...]

What is it exactly that we are supposed to be preparing pupils for?

2017-03-29T08:58:13+01:00December 1st, 2011|Featured|

As with anything, the answer to the above question depends entirely on who you ask. And, also depending on who you ask the answer may well be anything from strident soundbites to mumbled confusion. I've recently finished reading Ken Robinson's Out of Our Minds and it's pretty obvious, despite the enthusiasm of his legions of fans that SKR is no clearer than anyone else. After a shockingly lengthy introduction (8 chapters) he finally arrives at some sort of conclusion in his ninth (and last) chapter. So, what does he conclude? That we, er, should er, like, be sort of creative, or [...]

Does creativity need rules?

2013-11-01T17:09:03+00:00November 20th, 2011|English, learning, literacy, writing|

Grammar for toast? Last week's #ukedchat was titled, How can we build children’s imaginations so that they have more to choose from for their writing? and focussed on the dark art of creativity. My contribution to the discussion was to suggest that without clear knowledge of the forms and 'rules' of writing, creativity is inevitably stifled. Ideas become a kitchen-sink soup with everything chucked into the pot with little regard for structure, audience or purpose. I was a little disappointed to see that the archive reduces this thread of the debate to "There was a discussion around grammar and [...]

Is grammar glamorous?

2015-01-26T12:38:54+00:00November 16th, 2011|English, literacy|

Well, no it's not is it. Grammar's that dull stuff what kids got taught in the 60s. And then enlightened educationalists decided it was unfashionable for children to know how to parse sentences and wotnot. Which leaves me part of a lost generation who trundled through our schooling without learning a blessed thing about this arcane and mysterious subject. And that neatly segues into the fact that I've recently been enjoying my favourite linguistic professor and all round eccentric, David Crystal's lovely new book, The Story of English in 100 Words. One of his chosen 100 is 'grammar'. You see, it [...]

What's the point of assessment?

2011-08-22T12:10:55+01:00August 22nd, 2011|assessment|

Came across an interesting challenge by @purposeducation - #500words campaign, This week the topic is #purposedassess, so here goes... Everyone knows that there's two different types of assessment, right? There's summative assessment which is all about finding out whether students have learnt everything they've been taught. This is the kind of assessment that the media reports on and which schools are judged on. GCSEs, SATs, A levels etc. Then there's formative assessment, or Assessment for Learning as its been rebranded. This is all about finding out what kind of progress students are making. This is (hopefully) what goes on in classrooms [...]

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